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Privacy coins no more? CipherTrace files patents for tracing Monero transactions

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Crypto analytics firm CipherTrace announced on Friday that it had filed two patents for technology capable of tracing transactions for privacy coin Monero.

In a Nov. 20 blog from CipherTrace, the firm stated that the patents would include forensic tools to explore Monero (XMR) transaction flows to assist in financial investigations, statistical and probabilistic methods for scoring transactions and clustering likely wallet owners, as well as visualization tools and ways to track stolen or illegally used XMR.

“CipherTrace’s Monero tracing capabilities will allow [Virtual Asset Service Providers] to identify when inbound XMR may have criminal origins, allowing them to adequately risk rate customer transactions per any required regulations,” the blog stated. “[Our] goal is to enable the detection of criminal users, therefore increasing the safety and sustainability of privacy coins like Monero in the future.”

While Bitcoin (BTC) is still the preferred medium of exchange for many darknet market users, there has been increasing acceptance for privacy coins like XMR. Law enforcement agencies have not yet determined a reliable way to trace Monero, and firms like CipherTrace have an opportunity — the company has reportedly been working on a means to trace XMR transactions since early 2019.

CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans told Cointelegraph in August that the firm developed the first tool for tracking Monero transactions. Such a tool could potentially support investigations of crimes and reduce incidents of money laundering.

The company has stated it developed these Monero-tracing tools as part of a project with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but the latter isn’t the only government agency looking for a way to identify XMR wallets, transaction dates and times. In September, the Internal Revenue Service announced it would give a bounty of up to $625,000 to anyone who can break Monero.

Capabilities for CipherTrace’s tracing tools have not yet been confirmed. One Monero Outreach representative told Cointelegraph in October that they would be “highly suspicious of any claims that corporations can trace Monero transactions” and any firm that did so would be unlikely to “trace the wallets or amounts for any transaction.”

The price of Monero is $123.37 at the time of publication, having fallen 3.6% in the last 24 hours.



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Privacy coin Monero pumps 31% amid US taxation plans

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Coinciding with news that United States President Joe Biden’s proposed tax plan would require tax reporting on business transactions exceeding $10,000, the value of privacy coin Monero (XMR) climbed 31% on Friday.

Biden’s American Families tax plan would require exchanges and custodians to implement tighter reporting measures to help detect tax evasion and money laundering. Banks and financial institutions would also be required to report account inflow/outflow information to the Internal Revenue Service to help uncover unreported income.

The Treasury Department’s agenda, which was published on Thursday, stated that cryptocurrency business activity remained relatively small but was expected to increase in the next decade.

“Despite constituting a relatively small portion of business income today, cryptocurrency transactions are likely to rise in importance in the next decade, especially in the presence of a broad-based financial account reporting regime,” stated the report.

Just over 24 hours later, Monero led the charts among the cryptocurrency market capitalization top 100 with 31% growth. The coin price climbed from $230 to $304 overnight, adding to a now 84% rebound since Monero sank to a three-month low of $165 during Wednesday’s market crash.

Supplemental technologies that can anonymize the transactions of many well-known cryptocurrencies now exist, but Monero remains one of the few coins focused solely on privacy and is the largest of its kind by market cap.

Launched in 2014, Monero has since become a currency of choice on the drug markets of the dark web, replacing more well-known coins such as Bitcoin (BTC) in recent years. Blockchain analysis poses a threat to anyone using Bitcoin on the dark web, from drug dealers to anonymous journalists. Monero transactions cannot be traced in the same way. The technology has drawn the attention of government agencies worldwide, many of which have offered bounties to anyone who can make the opaque cryptocurrency transparent.

Google Trends data shows that Monero search interest has increased by close to 1,000% in the past year, as the coin price rose 1,300% from March 2020’s valuation of $34. Despite the surge in interest, historic search queries remain a quarter of what they were in December 2017, when Monero’s presence in the market cap top 10 gave it a more visible position in the cryptocurrency shop window.